Graduate students in Notre Dame’s MFA Program in Creative Writing focus in one of two tracks – Fiction or Poetry – but have the opportunity to take courses outside of their home genre in order to explore hybrid and cross disciplinary modes of writing. The program is designed to allow students to maximize their writing time while being immersed in an intensive writing and literary life through workshop, literature seminars designed by and for writers, and critical literary studies with our world-class English faculty.

Our two-year program entails four semesters of study. A typical course-load per semester for an MFA candidate at Notre Dame is one workshop, one graduate-level literature course or other course approved by the Director, and thesis hours, dedicated to writing. Students must take at least three workshops during their time at Notre Dame, the first two in the genre of application. After that, students may apply to the Director for permission to join a workshop in the other genre. All students are required to take a pedagogy and publication course during their first year of study; this course, divided into two six-week classes, is designed to help students acquire the necessary skills to thrive in an academic setting, teach effectively, ethically, and passionately, and begin to develop a publication profile early on in their writing careers.

In addition to conducting workshop, the program faculty offer a wide variety of literature seminars that allow students sustained exploration of a particular aesthetic or genre tradition; regularly offered seminars include Caribbean and Afro-Caribbean Literatures, Literatures of the Grotesque, Literatures of Exile and Migration, and a Translation workshop. 

One of the key features of the Notre Dame MFA Program in Creative Writing is that it is housed in an English Department with a thriving PhD Program and world-class faculty. MFA students can elect to take literature courses with any number of English faculty (hyperlink to faculty page in ENG). Courses that have proven generative for our graduate students over the years include, but are not limited to: The Modern Novel, with scholar and writer Barry McCrea, which focuses on narrative strategies, structures, and techniques in prose fiction; The Novella, with scholar and Post45 editor Kate Marshall, which examines the forms’ current ascendancy in reading culture; Editing and Performing Shakespeare, with scholar Peter Holland, which examines the various ways in which the work of the scholar and the work of the writer interact over time; American Literature Before 1865, with writer and scholar Laura Walls, which interrogates the textual practices of colonization in the British colonies of North America. Courses ranging from Medieval Literature to Contemporary Conceptual Literatures have helped our MFA students to think critically about their own writing and to push the boundaries of what’s possible in literature.

A complete list of distinctive courses offered through the English Department can be found here.

With the approval of the Director, students may also choose from Notre Dame’s wide selection of graduate courses, including gender studies, art and art history, book arts, languages and literatures, film, television and theatre.

For all other information regarding your course of study at Notre Dame, including information about courses, grades, transfer credits, incompletes and withdrawals, please consult the Graduate Student Handbook, (MFA Section)